College in Portugal: How to Study in Portugal

14 de September, 2022

College in Portugal: How to Study in Portugal

Learn how colleges in Portugal work, the selection process, costs, and many other relevant information.
Reading: 11 min
There are many Brazilian students who move to study in college in Portugal. Either because of the international recognition of the institutions or because of the desire to live abroad, the country has been the destination of many young people who do their entire graduation abroad.

In this article, we have put together a guide on how colleges work in the Portuguese country, what the selection process is like, costs, and a lot of other relevant information for those who want to live this experience. First, we will answer three very common questions in a very quick way.

How much does law school cost in Portugal?The amount varies depending on which law school you choose to attend, but ranges from $1,500 to $7,000 per year.
How to apply for college in Portugal?There is no vestibular. You need to gather all the documents, apply in the application season (January to May), and pay the application fee. After that, wait for the selection process to run.
How long does medical school last in Portugal?Medical school in Portugal lasts 6 years between theory and practice.
Internal courtyard of the University of Coimbra, Portugal

How to go to College in Portugal?

There are several ways to study in Portugal and enter the country’s universities. Before going on, it is good to understand that in the country there is a system similar to Enem, the Concurso Nacional de Acesso, managed by DGES – Direção-Geral do Ensino Superior. The system gathers most of the Portuguese public universities.

However, as a foreigner there are other ways to get into college in Portugal, either through Enem or through the direct university system.

How to apply for college in Portugal through the traditional process

The traditional process for getting into college in Portugal, in most institutions, is simplified and works through the National Access Competition. The process, similar to Enem, includes tests in specific areas of the desired course.

To apply for a place through the National Access Competition you must:

  • Hold a high school degree, or legally equivalent qualification;
  • Take, or have taken in the last two years, the national exams corresponding to the entrance examinations required for the different courses and institutions to which you will apply;
  • Complete the prerequisites if they are required by the institution for the course you are applying for;
  • Not be covered by the international student status regulated by Decree-Law no. 36/2014, of March 10, amended and republished by Decree-Law no. 62/2018, of August 6.

In other words, being a foreigner (and without European citizenship), you must have equal rights status or have lived legally in the country for at least 2 years.

How to apply to college in Portugal through ENEM

The most sought-after model of entering Portuguese institutions by Brazilian students is through Enem. Since 2014 the National High School Exam began to be accepted by Portuguese universities, the first to adopt it was the University of Coimbra.

The process works according to each college and will depend on the institution chosen. However, one of the common features is the conversion of the Enem scores with weighting according to the subjects relevant to the course. Thus, depending on the course, each grade will be calculated with a different weight.

For example, if you are thinking about going to college to study engineering, you need to get a good score on the Enem in the areas of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. For a communication college, the best score needs to be in the areas of Humanities, Languages and Codes.

On the websites of universities in Portugal, you can find all the information to calculate the conversion of your Enem score to the Portuguese scale. It is worth remembering that each university has a cut-off score for undergraduate and integrated master’s courses, as well as its own way of converting the score.

Attention: it is not possible to study medicine in Portugal with your Enem score, not even veterinary medicine. This is because medical courses are not open to foreign students. To apply, you must take the National Competition, that is, you must take the exam and also live in the country with equal status or have European citizenship.

Colleges in Portugal that accept Enem

In 2022, there are 51 Portuguese universities that accept Enem, the list is in order of adherence, the latest being the most recent:

  1. University of Coimbra;
  2. University of Algarve;
  3. Polytechnic Institute of Leiria;
  4. Polytechnic Institute of Beja;
  5. Polytechnic Institute of Porto;
  6. Instituto Politécnico Portalegre;
  7. Polytechnic Institute of Cávado and Ave;
  8. Polytechnic Institute of Coimbra;
  9. University of Aveiro;
  10. Polytechnic Institute of Guarda;
  11. University of Lisbon;
  12. Universidade do Porto;
  13. University of Madeira;
  14. Polytechnic Institute of Viseu;
  15. Polytechnic Institute of Santarém;
  16. University of the Azores;
  17. Universidade da Beira Interior;
  18. University of Minho;
  19. Cooperative of Polytechnic and University Higher Education;
  20. Lusophone University of Humanities and Technologies;
  21. Polytechnic Institute of Setubal;
  22. Polytechnic Institute of Bragança;
  23. Polytechnic Institute of Castelo Branco;
  24. Universidade Lusófona do Porto;
  25. Universidade Portucalense;
  26. Instituto Universitário da Maia;
  27. Polytechnic Institute of Maia;
  28. Portuguese Catholic University;
  29. Fernando Pessoa University;
  30. University Institute of Psychological, Social and Life Sciences;
  31. Leonardo da Vinci Institute;
  32. Alcoitão College of Health;
  33. Lusíada University – North;
  34. Lusíada University;
  35. Nursing School of Coimbra;
  36. Escola Superior Artística do Porto;
  37. European University;
  38. University Institute of Lisbon;
  39. Escola Superior de Saúde Norte of the Portuguese Red Cross;
  40. Autonomous University of Lisbon;
  41. Polytechnic Institute of Lusophony;
  42. Institute of Higher Studies of Fafe;
  43. Manuel Teixeira Gomes Higher Institute;
  44. Dom Dinis Higher Institute;
  45. Higher Institute of Management;
  46. Instituto Superior de Gestão e Administração de Santarém;
  47. Instituto Superior de Gestão e Administração de Gaia;
  48. Portuguese Institute of Marketing Administration of Lisbon;
  49. Polytechnic Institute of Viana do Castelo;
  50. Portuguese Institute of Marketing Administration of Porto;
  51. New University of Lisbon
Students climb the stairs of a college in Portugal
Each college in Portugal has its own criteria for the Enem cutoff score in the application.

How much does it cost to go to college in Portugal?

The question about how much it costs to study in Portugal is very common, but the answer is that it depends on the institution you intend to study at and the regime you enter. The first thing to keep in mind is that all colleges in Portugal are paid. Unlike what happens with federal and state institutions in Brazil, public institutions in Portugal are also paid.

Universities charge different prices for domestic and foreign students. A Portuguese student taking an undergraduate or integrated master’s degree at public institutions pays a maximum of €697 per year, which is the ceiling set by the government.

However, for foreign students the price varies greatly and can be up to 15 times higher than for a national student. An example is the Nutrition course at the University of Lisbon, whose annual fee for international students is 10,000€, according to the table provided by ULisboa.

Undergraduate price for Brazilian students at a public university in Portugal

To understand the values, we present some prices of the most popular courses, highlighting the cheapest and the most expensive ones.

The prices shown are for Brazilian students, because in some institutions, such as the University of Porto, Brazilian students have discounts of up to 45% in relation to other foreign students, since they are part of the CPLP – Community of Portuguese Language Countries.

The prices refer to the tuition fee, i.e. the annual amount to be paid for the 2022/2023 academic year. The institutions have their own installment models, at UPorto, for example, it can be paid in 10 interest-free installments.

UniversityLower PricesHigher Prices
University of Porto1.925€8.000€
University of Lisbon3.000€12.500€
University of Coimbra*7.000€7.000€

*The University of Coimbra adopts a single price table for international students, with no variations in values between bachelor’s degrees and integrated master’s degrees and no distinction in price for CPLP.

Undergraduate Price at Private Universities in Portugal

Among private universities, there is not always a difference between the amount paid by local and foreign students, since there is no government subsidy for tuition. Moreover, it is common in private universities for the tuition fee – the annual payment to the university – to vary according to the number of credits or courses taken.

So students pay according to the number of courses they enroll in, but there is a fixed tuition fee that varies by course.

University Lower PricesHigher Prices
Fernando Pessoa University2.932€7.550€
Lusófona University*12.34 per ECT24.18 per ECT
Catholic University*14.30 per ECT16.85€ per ECT

*ECT refers to the European Credit Transfer System. One semester in college in Portugal usually corresponds to 30 ECTS (or more depending on the course) and the amount must be paid in 5 monthly installments.

For example: 30 ECTS x $12.34 = $370.20 x 5 months = $1,851 per semester or $3,702.00 per year.

Scholarship to go to college in Portugal

Studying with a scholarship in Portugal is the goal of many young people who seek a place in the country.

There are several types of scholarships for those who wish to study in Portugal, one of the most common is the Santander scholarship, focused on mobility periods abroad. Santander offers scholarships that include accommodation, airfare and university expenses. The program called Becas Sant ander opens calls throughout the year for a variety of purposes.

But for those who wish to complete their education in Portugal, there are other types of scholarships that are better suited. Some universities offer scholarships for international students, you must check the website of the intended institution to verify their existence. On the DGES website you can also check the process for applying for a scholarship in Portugal.

Study group at the university
Scholarships for colleges in Portugal require a lot of dedication from students.

There are also scholarships available from the Consulate of Portugal, there are several programs from different institutions promoted on the institution’s website. Check the organizations and models of scholarships available, the Camões Institute scholarships are the best known.

Top Universities in Portugal

The best universities in Portugal according to major international rankings 2022, such as the QS World University Ran king and the Academic Ranking of World Universities, the top rated institutions are:

Is the college diploma from Portugal valid in Brazil?

Not automatically. Every diploma issued abroad must undergo revalidation to be valid in Brazil, including Portuguese diplomas. The process is essential to exercise the activity in Brazil and, in some situations, it may be necessary to take complementary courses, if the Brazilian educational institution deems it necessary.

To make the request you must attach the required documents. In the case of the bachelor’s degree, documents such as a copy of the diploma and the school transcript are requested, containing the subjects or activities taken and used in relation to the results of the evaluations and attendance.

The student must choose a Brazilian educational institution to carry out the process, it is only possible to file the request in one institution. For this reason, it is important to research the compatibility between the courses and evaluate which one best fits the grid of subjects studied abroad to avoid having to attend classes and take exams.

Colleges in Portugal that accept Brazilians

Any college in Portugal accepts Brazilians, whether private or public.

What may or may not exist are bilateral agreements that facilitate the coming of Brazilians, such as accepting the ENEM and charging cheaper tuition fees for CPLP countries (of which Brazil is part). So it is necessary to research whether or not the intended college has these agreements that facilitate the entry of Brazilians.

Frequently Asked Questions about College in Portugal

Now we will talk about our readers’ most frequent doubts about college in Portugal. We have selected 5 of them to answer.

How do colleges work in Portugal?

A little different from Brazil. As we have explained throughout this article, colleges in Portugal are paid, regardless of whether they are public or private. In addition, the school year is also different.

Classes start in September, with a short break between Christmas and New Year. The exams and appeals take place in January and February. In March, the second semester begins, which runs until June, and vacations take place during the European summer, i.e. July and August.

Many courses are only 3 years long, but to comply with the Bologna Treaty, these courses offer the option of a 2-year integrated master’s degree. In this way, the student completes the 5-year course load and leaves with two diplomas in hand: a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree.

How to go to medical school in Portugal?

To do medical school in Portugal as a foreigner, that is, without European citizenship, it is necessary to have been legally residing in the country for at least 2 years and to have the Statute of Equal Rights and Duties. The same happens for veterinary medicine.

For those who have European citizenship, the way to study medicine in the country is through the National Access Competition. However, to do so, you will need to validate your high school diploma in Portugal and study for the test that works like our Enem.

Are the classes in Portuguese colleges in English?

It depends on the faculty in Portugal and the course in question. There are international institutions that teach classes in English, especially those institutions that focus on the business world. Porto Business School is an example of this. It is also quite common to have classes with guest professors.

Is college in Portugal free?

Unfortunately no. For national or international students, colleges are paid, whether public or private. Also, the fees are differentiated. National students pay a lower fee and international students a higher fee. Some universities offer intermediate fees for CPLP students, whose native language is Portuguese.

How much is dental school in Portugal?

This will vary depending on the university you choose, but tuition usually ranges from $7,500 to $12,500 per year.

Is it worth it to go to college in Portugal?

Yes, the education model adopted in Portugal by the Bologna process is different from the Brazilian one, but it is within the practices of the main European countries. A diploma from abroad, as well as all the knowledge acquired abroad can be a differential factor for the job market.

On the other hand, those who wish to live permanently in the country may have the opportunity to study Portuguese practices. As well as making a network of contacts in the area you want to work, either with professors or colleagues.

In addition, you have more opportunities to live even more enriching experiences, such as participating in the Erasmus exchange program, which promotes student mobility with scholarship payments to European countries. The program is an opportunity to experience life abroad even more intensely, to study in recognized institutions, and to get to know a new culture.

Article originally published on our partner site Euro Dicas.



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